Having a private wine cellar is the dream of many, especially for those who collect fine wine, and view it more as a serious pleasure, rather than just a passing hobby. Cellars can be large or small, rectangular or square, elegant, rustic or modern. They can also cater for all tastes, budgets and palates. And, not to forget, all wines: young and aged; white, pink and red.
In this ideabook, we are going to look a spectacular set of wine cellars in a specific design style—spiral. They are impressive at first sight, with the most exciting part of an underground spiral cellar being the hunt and discovery for the secret front door. The anticipation and lead up is great; opening up a world of promise, colour, aromas, flavours and for some vintages, there are wonderful stories attached. We are also going to investigate the variables that can be presented when designing a wine cellar, and tell you why spiral wine cellars are the best and most ingenious option for saving our fermented liquid treasures. Take a look…
Regardless of how the design looks, spiral or not, you should take into account the following five variables, so that the bottles of wine, including the liquid inside them, is preserved in its original state.
We will explain this in detail below:
The wine cellar must be a closed and solid space, with well insulated walls and ceiling. The preference for light is total darkness or dimmed, or at the very least, the owner must be able to control the light that enters. The advantage of a spiral cellar is that one can move freely within the space, facilitating proper air circulation. In addition to this, the shelves are easily accessible from a variety of angles, meaning you do not have to strain your back or neck to find the bottle you want. From a visual standpoint, you can see and admire all of your favourite bottles of wine as you climb up and down.
Currently, as seen in this image by JMF, there are a myriad of lighting techniques that give us endless possibilities not to be in total darkness, allowing us to have some ambience and mood at our fingertips.
It is important that surges of air currents in wine cellars are avoided, with the entrance way free of odours and smoke. You should also avoid, where possible, storing other foodstuffs or cleaning products with your wine— in the event you do not have a dedicated wine space. You should consider the position of your wine cellar based on the neighbouring rooms. Cork is a natural, breathing material, so the smell of whatever you keep in close vicinity is likely to be absorbed. Too much or too little ventilation is bad; it needs to be keep constant. If there isn't enough air, your wine will taste and smell musty. If there is too much, it'll turn to vinegar. A spiral cellar in this instance, prevents the bottles at the front from being directly effected by outside variables due to the lack of air volume. It also facilitates the better organisation of bottles by country, year and type.
Humidity is one of the biggest enemies of the wine cork, so it is important to ensure the space is neither too dry or too moist. Experts recommend about 70-75% moisture, and at either side of the spectrum it is likely that your wine, as mentioned above, will start to have a vinegar or musty-like taste. The overall material the cellar is built from doesn't necessary have to be timber; think about the cellars or caves of old monasteries with their thick, dense stone or earth walls. Whatever you choose, it needs to be a material that is adverse to mould and fungi—remember what we said about smells above!
Regardless of the season or climatic conditions, it is important to have a suitable temperature in wine cellars, as it is an essential factor for effective conservation and development of your precious treasures. Experts recommend 12-15 ° C, with high temperatures proven to spoil the wine, lower the maturity process and impede the development or ageing. Be sure to install a climate controller of some description; or at the very least, have a thermostat installed so that you can monitor and keep an eye on any fluctuations in temperature during weather extremes.
So, you might ask yourself, why do people naturally gravitate to underground cellars? The reason for this is the lack of vibration, especially in inner city or thoroughfare locations where high volumes of traffic is an issue. Think of it this way: a sudden vibration once a day is exactly the same as you picking up the bottle and physically shaking it. Not ideal, right? The shaking speeds up the chemical process, and contrary to popular belief, you should never rotate the wine. All this does is move the sediment around the bottle, and cause ineffective chemical reactions. Wine must lay flat, and not move from the moment you store it! In this case, the material quality of the shelf is important, as the structure needs to be strong enough to withstand any sudden movements. The bottles also shouldn't touch, so consider the distance between each one when readying a cellar for storage.
Thirsty for more wine storage and cellaring ideas? Check out the following ideabooks: